In our home education, I have found that it is easiest to school year-round. We take breaks throughout the year when our family needs them, and I plan ahead in little batches at a time. While most people are gearing up for a new school year at the end of summer, we are actually in the middle of some curriculum and will simply be continuing it. I am making some changes, though and adding in new things for the Fall.
In this blog post, I will be sharing my curriculum choices for the 2021-2022 school year. That being said, we start and finish curriculum all throughout the year and don’t stick to traditional school year timelines.
The majority of our schoolwork is done “family-style” meaning I try to choose things that can be done with both of my older children, with slight adaptations to challenge them at their own levels. My very young preschooler will be joining in for the parts he wants to. I don’t believe in formal lessons at his age, so nothing will be required–only an invitation.
My daughter is currently almost 7 years old and my son is 8 and a half; they would technically be considered first and third grade. My younger son is turning 3 in August, so he would be considered PreK-3. That being said, I do not squeeze my children into boxes labeled by grades in any subject, but instead, allow them to progress in each area as they are ready.
Here are my curriculum picks for this new school year! This includes:
- Our Core Curriculum for 2021-2022
- Morning Time
- Phonics and Spelling
- Language Arts
- Independent Reading
- Science and Nature Study
- History and Geography
- Loop Subjects and Projects
You can also watch an in-depth peek inside my curriculum choices in this YouTube video.
Our Core Curriculum
We have been using My Father’s World Adventures in US History as our core curriculum since January (referred to as Adventures in this post) and have absolutely loved it. We go at our own pace and stretch some weeks into two, so we still have quite a few weeks left. For the new school year we will be continuing this curriculum, as well as adding Treehouse Nature Study as our core.
Adventures in US History
Adventures is an early elementary curriculum (It is labeled for 2nd to 3rd grade but can be adapted for younger learners as well). It is based around American history from a Christian perspective. Throughout the year we read tons of amazing books, practice oral and written narration, create a US History notebook, do loads of hands-on projects, and work on a continual timeline throughout our studies. Adventures is a full curriculum and includes plans for every subject. We do not use all of the elements included. Below, I will go into detail about what we use from Adventures and what we don’t. I love that it is so easy to follow and implement with little prep, the content is thorough and well-rounded, and the lessons leave us room to add in ideas and projects without feeling overwhelmed.
Treehouse Nature Study
Treehouse Nature Study is my brand new nature study curriculum that I recently published! It is a seasonal nature study curriculum designed specifically to be used in family settings. This year we will be using Treehouse Nature Study for all of our beauty subjects and for Science/ Nature Study. I will detail exactly which areas it will cover for us below.
Now I will go through every subject for the year and explain what resources and curriculums I plan to incorporate in each area.
Over breakfast my husband leads the family in devotions. This usually includes Bible readings, discussion, scripture memory, and prayer. We have used various devotional books to help guide this time over the years. This year we will be continuing The Ology and going through Our 24 Family Ways again when we complete that. Adventures also includes Bible lessons, which we sometimes use during lesson time.
Check out this highlight for a peek inside The Ology and this blog post all about Our 24 Family Ways. We will also be using my shop’s Scripture Sets which coordinate with Our 24 Family Ways when we go through them again.
During Morning Time this year I plan to include my newly 3-year old son. We will gather at the school table, and he will be included as much as he would like to be. If he were a bit older, I would treat this as a preschool year for him and use tips from this blog post to include him more. Being that he is a young three, he will mostly enjoy the hand rhyme and song and listen in on some read alouds. The rest of the time, he will likely stay occupied nearby with snacks, toys, and art supplies! Check out this blog post on ways to engage your toddler during lessons.
We will start our day by using our Traceable Calendar and Weather Chart from my shop. The kids love to trace the letters and numbers and look out the window and at the weather report to track the day’s weather. I like to put the sheets in menu covers and use dry erase markers. My three year old will have his own, but I am sure it will be mostly to doodle on!
Beauty Subjects with Treehouse Nature Study
After our calendars, the rest of our Morning Time will be spent using Treehouse Nature Study. Each week has a seasonal nature theme and selections for each beauty subject to coordinate. The curriculum provides display sheets for each area, so these sheets will also slip into our Morning Time menus.
The areas we will cover are:
- Folk Song: Each week we will learn and enjoy a new folk song that coordinates with the week’s nature theme. It will have a link to Spotify so we can listen and sing along, reading the lyrics from the display sheet. We may even pull out some instruments!
- Hand Rhyme: Next we will follow along with the hand rhyme sheet and sing a short rhyme with hand motions that coordinates with the theme. There is also a link to the motions on YouTube in the guide.
- Poetry: For poetry, we will have a new poem and poet to study each week. Each day we will interact with the poem in new ways such as copywork, recitation, illustration and poet study.
- Picture Study: For picture study, we will have a new piece of art and artist to study each week. Each day we will interact with the art in new ways such as artist study, observation activities, and replication.
We will also read a book or two from our Nature Study Book Basket during Morning Time. I plan to choose the fiction picture books from the book list that would most appeal to my three year old during this time to draw him in. We may also squeeze in the hands-on nature connection from Treehouse Nature Study during Morning Time if it is an activity that would appeal to my youngest child. Some examples of these activities are handcrafts, recipes, and sensory experiences such as clay modeling.
Main LessonsThis is the time of our day that my youngest plays nearby and the focus is on my 1st and 3rd grader. Here is what we will be using for each area of study this year.
Spelling and phonics
Both of my children are strong readers, but we will still do some light phonics work this year to help with decoding more complex words and spelling. We will be using Explode the Code primarily for phonics. We absolutely love these simple and fun phonics workbooks. Each child has their own level and can work mostly independently. We may mix it up by also adding a moveable alphabet, salt trays, and other hands-on elements.
For spelling, we were using Spelling You See, but I found it unnecessary with the amount of copywork and writing my children already do with poetry, scripture, and notebooking. Instead of a formal spelling curriculum this year, we are just sticking with those things and doing dictation once or twice a week. For more about what dictation is and how to do it, check out this article.
As we journey through US History using Adventures, there is a heavy focus on language arts through reading, narrating, and notebooking. We will also be notebooking with Treehouse Nature Study this year. The bulk of our writing, spelling, grammar, and reading practice will be done via history and nature study lessons in an organic way. We will also be continuing to use My Father’s World Language Lessons for Today, which includes short lessons on English usage, punctuation, composition, and oral language skills. There is also a lot of poetry and picture study in this book which we will simply skip over, since we are doing so much of that in Morning Time.
Both Adventures and Treehouse Nature Study offers book recommendations for each week to further study the topics that we are learning. I will be gathering these from our local library or purchasing them second-hand and will rotate the books out of a basket each week. I may read some aloud or just give them time to explore the books on their own. Along with this, both of my children spend hours each day reading on their own. Sometimes they read fiction, non-fiction, or chapter books. This isn’t a part of our lessons, but just their daily habit. I try to keep our shelves stocked with the best of the best. Check out this post on how I find good, quality books!
Science and Nature Study
Treehouse Nature Study will be covering our science this year. Along with all of the Morning time activities, we will also read and narrate non-fiction books from the book list and complete the hands-on connections, such as experiments, nature walk observations, and nature study notebooking.
History and Geography
As mentioned, one of the main topics of study this year is US History, as well as the geography of America. The main source for learning all of these topics will be reading hundreds of living books, narrating, notebooking, hands-on projects, and creating a timeline over the course of the year. We will also learn some world history and geography through artist and poet study, Biblical study, and history studies.
We are making the switch from Masterbooks Math Lessons for a Living Education to Math-U-See this year. While there were many elements that we enjoyed about Masterbooks, it wasn’t fulfilling all of our needs, so we decided to make the switch. I haven’t written a final review of Masterbooks or a new post about why we chose Math-U-See yet, but definitely check back for those. We will be starting out with Alpha for my daughter and Beta for my son.
Loop Scheduling and projects
Loop Scheduling is a method in which you go down a list of subjects that you go through in order, one per day in the time slot of your rhythm that allows for it. Rather than “every Monday we do Nature Study”, we just go down the list of subjects as we have space in our rhythm to fit them in. For us, at this stage with a baby and toddler in the mix, this takes a lot of stress out of our days. My priority is to cover the main lessons each school day. If we have time to fit in our Loop Subject after those are complete, then we do that too. Using my Customizable Homeschool Planner really helps me stay on track.
For our loop subjects this year, we will be covering:
- Sign Language: I have chosen Sign Language as my children’s foreign language because they are both hearing impaired. While they do use verbal language, I thought it would be helpful and useful in their lifetime to know sign language. I plan to use Signing Time Classroom Edition.
- Music: Through Adventures, we study composers and patriotic songs. We are also beginning piano lessons this year!
- Art: We are taking a homeschool art class this year in our local community.
- Practical Skills and Handicrafts: Both Adventures and Treehouse Nature Study include art projects, handicrafts, and baking projects. I also like to add in my own projects!
- Typing: This year we are adding in typing lessons by using Keyboarding without Tears.